Whose Will Dominates: Individual, Family and Community Influences on Participation in Spouse Selection

Colter Mitchell, Princeton University

This article examines child autonomy, parental power and social control as evidenced by the influences of individual, parental and community beliefs about the level of participation youth should have in selecting their spouse choice on later spouse choice behavior. The author develops a theoretical framework to explain how the individual, family and local community interact to determine whose desires for spouse choice behavior are fulfilled. This framework pays particular attention to the role of education as an allocator of social status. Analyses show that both the child’s and the father’s attitudes influence spouse choice participation. Finally, for children with higher levels of education or more education than their parents, their attitude toward spouse choice is a significantly stronger predictor of later behavior than for those children with lower levels of education or less education than their parents—suggesting education acts as an allocator of social status.

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Presented in Session 182: Marriage Markets